Tornado set sights on repeating as conference champions
BRISTOL, Tenn. – After sweeping the Conference Carolinas titles in the indoor and outdoor seasons in 2013, the King University women's track and field team will look to duplicate last season's feat and take home a pair of conference crowns this year to continue its dominance over Conference Carolinas foes.
First-year head coach Amanda Williamson, who spent three seasons as an assistant coach with the program after competing as a student at King, returns the core of last year's team, including reigning Conference Carolinas Outdoor Field Athlete of the Year Maegan Henry.
The junior has been nothing short of impressive during her first two years as a Tornado. At last season's outdoor championships, Henry won both the shot put and hammer throw while finishing third in the javelin throw. She also won the weight throw and finished second in the shot put at the conference indoor championships. In 2011-12, the Bluefield, Va., native was named Conference Carolinas Freshman of the Year, and she has been named All-Region by the USTFCCCA nine times in two seasons.
"Maegan is the epitome of a student-athlete. She is great in the classroom and seeing her at practice, she leads by example, and a great leader has to lead by example," Williamson said. "She can definitely take the freshmen and the younger throwers the technique and what hard work really can get you. I'm so glad that she is with us and on our team because she is a great addition to our team."
Sophomore Tia Nelson and junior Alexis Robinson both return to anchor the sprint events for the Tornado. The duo made up half of King's conference championship team in the outdoor 4x100 meter relay and finished third and fourth, respectively, in the indoor 200 meter dash.
Despite having many key athletes back from last year's squad, Williamson faces the challenge of replacing some of the key contributors from a season ago. Lanneickia Brewton was a member of the conference championship 4x100 meter team during the outdoor season and won the 200 meter event at the indoor championships. Atlanta Westbrook also won a 400 meter outdoor conference championship and finished second in the indoor long jump. Both were USTFCCCA All-Region honorees a season ago. Williams will also have to replace last year's Conference Carolinas Indoor Track Athlete of the year, Hannah Witt. Witt won both the 3,000 and 5,000 meter runs during the indoor season and the 5,000 meter run in the outdoor season.
The indoor portion of the season began in December with the Appalachian State Invite in Boone, N.C. The Tornado finished first out of six non-NCAA Division I teams in the competition. Henry broke her own school record in the indoor shot put and matched her record weight throw performance, while Jaleessa Kennedy set a King record in the triple jump. Henry also posted an NCAA provisional shot put of 13.33 meters. Shelbie Burchfield got off to a great start at the Appalachian State Invite where she came within 0.02 meters of her school record.
The Tornado return to action in Winston-Salem, N.C., at the Wake Forest Invitational on January 11. The team will compete at the Niswonger Invitational on the campus of East Tennessee State University on January 17 and 18. Conference Carolinas will hold its indoor championship event in Winston-Salem on February 23 before the indoor portion of the schedule concludes on March 14 and 15 with the NCAA Division II championships in Winston-Salem. The outdoor conference championship will be held on April 24 and 25 at Lees-McRae College, with competition ending with the Division II championship meet in Allendale, Mich. on May 22-24.